James Huffman

Durban delegates kick the can down the road

Among the thousands gathered in Durban, South Africa, for the just-concluded climate confab were dozens of law students and law professors from the United States. At the risk of offending fellow environmentalist law professors, Professor Karl Coplan questioned, on Pace University’s GreenLaw, the logic of working to reduce carbon emissions by incurring the very large carbon footprint associated with dozens of round-trip flights by students and professors from the United States to Durban.

How large? According to Coplan, round-trip travel for one individual from New York to Durban results in eight tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. That’s about the same, again according to Coplan, as the emissions from a year of travel (15,000 miles) in a Lincoln Navigator, “probably the ultimate American rugged-individualist anti-environmentalist status symbol.” And it’s about twice the average annual global per-capita carbon footprint, even including drivers of Lincoln Navigators.

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